The Big Picture: NBX Grand Prix of Cyclocross Elite Women (Day 1)

Ellen Noble (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria) and Emma White (CyclocrossWorld Development Team) returned from a brief jaunt of European racing to crush day 1 of the NBX Grand Prix of Cyclocross. After White took a commanding lead over the first half of the race, Noble surged back in response to take and hold onto a lead for the win, with White in 2nd. Behind the pair, Arley Kemmerer (Level Eleven Racing) would hunt Jenna Greaser (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria) over the much of the race, ending in a dicey sprint with Kemmerer ultimately taking 3rd.

Foregoing coverage of the starting grid, I set up camp on the long sand section to catch the leaders as they came through. The sand was loose, coarse, and relatively dry – not setting into rideable ruts, and virtually all racers opting to run.

White hit the gas early to set the pace, and hit the sand even with Greaser.  © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
White hit the gas early to set the pace, and hit the sand even with Greaser. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
Noble was following a few meters back, opting to wait today rather than hammer from the gun as we’ve seen her do elsewhere. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
Noble was following a few meters back, opting to wait today rather than hammer from the gun as we’ve seen her do elsewhere. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com

Already a few seconds behind the leaders, Kemmerer, Kathleen Lysakowski (Joe’s Garage CX p/b BikeReg), and Kate Northcott (West Hill Shop), followed by the rest of the pack:

© 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
© 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com

Check the different styles of carry technique in the three photos above, shot at the same point–under downtube, around headtube, and rolling the bike on the ground. I’m sure you could make up a reason why carrying or rolling would be preferred, but in practice, neither seemed superior to the other here.

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Near the end of lap 1, White and Noble had already distanced themselves from the rest of the field, with Greaser left chasing a few seconds down. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com

 

Behind them, Kemmerer began to roll away from her race-mates and slowly reel back Greaser.

While Kemmerer was shredding the course, she still lagged ~10 seconds behind Greaser, with a fair bit of ground to make up. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com.
While Kemmerer was shredding the course, she still lagged ~10 seconds behind Greaser, with a fair bit of ground to make up. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com.
Half a lap later and White had made her attack, now clear of Noble and Greaser. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
Half a lap later and White had made her attack, now clear of Noble and Greaser. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
Noble had conceded a full 10 second gap to White, allowing Greaser to briefly catch back on. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
Noble had conceded a full 10 second gap to White, allowing Greaser to briefly catch back on. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com

Eventually, Noble decided she had let White go get far enough and a chase was in order:

Noble sporting the “full-gas” level of jersey unzip. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
Noble sporting the “full-gas” level of jersey unzip. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com

Coming through a series of flat 180-degree turns, White still had quite a gap, seemingly expanding her lead to ~15 seconds despite Noble’s effort. But the zig-zags offer sight lines between Noble and White, allowing each other to gauge their output, and offering a carrot to chase.

On most other parts of the course, White would be “out of sight, out of mind”… © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
On most other parts of the course, White would be “out of sight, out of mind”… © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
But here, 8 straightaways linked by 90 and 180 degree turns squeeze a lot of course into a small area, with an open view across everything. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
But here, 8 straightaways linked by 90 and 180 degree turns squeeze a lot of course into a small area, with an open view across everything. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com

Somewhere on a far side of the course, White suffered a mechanical and was forced to pit – dissolving her lead on Noble.

Over the logs again, and Noble and White were back together. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
Over the logs again, and Noble and White were back together. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com

Noble seemed to find new legs, and spared no time in capitalizing on White’s wasted effort, countering White’s attack…

Shortly after the logs, Noble already had a gap on White at the planks. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
Shortly after the logs, Noble already had a gap on White at the planks. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
Meanwhile, Kemmerer finally had caught Greaser. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
Meanwhile, Kemmerer finally had caught Greaser. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com

With two laps to go, Noble’s gap only continued to grow, who was holding a 10 second advantage on White over the sand.

© 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
© 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
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© 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
The battle for 3rd place was still heating up – Greaser and Kemmerer still riding together. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
The battle for 3rd place was still heating up – Greaser and Kemmerer still riding together. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com

With 1 lap to go, the situation at the front remained the same: Noble led White with a comfortable gap. But at the world’s smallest flyover, Kemmerer was still setting the pace while Greaser followed.

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© 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com

As Noble came across the line for the win, the set up for the 3rd place sprint was occurring just behind.

Noble, ecstatic as always, and Greaser leading Kemmerer into the final corner. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
Noble, ecstatic as always, and Greaser leading Kemmerer into the final corner. © 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com

After White crossed the line for

2nd with a wave to the crowd, all eyes were on the finishing straight, waiting for Greaser and Kemmerer.

As both riders came into view, something was amiss:

Kemmerer was sprinting; yet Greaser had sat up and was giving the universal sprinter’s gesticulation for “that wasn’t a clean finish!”

© 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com
© 2015 John Kavouris www.johnkavouris.com

There was apparently a little bumping between the two riders on the finishing straight, but after review by the officials, the finish stands: Kemmerer took 3rd, and Greaser 4th.

Day one men’s report up soon.

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